Scrivener to compile papers


I am involved in the writing of several jobs for the university, and I would like to present them as if they were a paper. Here is an example:

Is it possible to do something like that with Scrivener? I want to compile a final document in PDF without external software. Different sections could be managed with a combination of Section types with dedicated Layouts. But my main question is to divide a part of the document into 2 (even 3 if necessary) columns.

I have consulted this entry , but I can not find the solution in section 24.13. This is a screenshot of my Transformations panel:

Scrivener 3.0.2 (1506)
mac OS High Sierra

Any help is greatly appreciated.

While it has many capabilities, Scrivener is still a piece of dedicated writing software. What you are talking about is a fairly sophisticated page layout task. It is something to be tackled as a finishing task in a dedicated page layout program (InDesign) or hybrid software (Word, Pages).


P.S. No doubt the reason you can’t find the referenced material in the manual is that that post from an earlier thread probably refers to the manual for Sciv version 2, not version 3. Also, if you read that thread again, you will see that the OP is being advised that they need to finish their layout task in another app.

gr, thank you for your quick response :slight_smile: . That is to say, from what you tell me, is it not possible to compile a pdf document into two columns? Even just the entire document.

The rest (colors, first paragraph letters in another size, etc.) is accessory at this moment.

It’s possible to compile into multiple columns. See Section 24.6.2 of the Scrivener 3 manual.

It’s even possible to have your first section – the abstract block – formatted as a single column and the rest formatted as two.

But only in the word processor formats: RTF, DOC, and so on. Not in PDF or HTML formats.

It’s not possible to do fun layout tricks like the orange bars or the information block in the margin in Scrivener.


Thank you Katherine, I have searched where you told me and I could do, approximately, what I was looking for:

But the main problem which I faced was to indicate where I want columns to start. Scrivener deals in the same way with the First Document and the Front Matter: If you include a front matter, Scrivener considers it the first document, so in this case it makes no sense to make a distinction between them.

I suppose it’s a isuue that the developers could solve in some way.

Long story short, I attached a couple of screenshots so you can see how I did it. Any improvement, as always, is welcome. It is a pity that it can not be done directly in PDF: it would save time and energy.

  1. I created a Type Section, in Project / Project Settings:
    section type.png
  2. In Layout, I formatted as I wanted and then, in the “Prefix” tab, I created the “fixed” part, with the name of the teachers, the subject, the group, and so on.
  3. The text of the Abstract would be written in the corresponding document of the Binder; In my case it is still called “Portada”. (Sorry, I could not upload a picture)

Thank you!

My answer to this—as a non-member of the team—is that:

  1. you seem to have found a way to do what you want, and that is the great strength of Scrivener, even though it is not a page-layout or pseudo-page-layout application like InDesign or Word, that solutions can be found to problems that would initially seem out of scope;
  2. while to you, it might save your time and energy if it worked the way you want, that doesn’t mean it would for the ‘developers’—which in this case means ‘developer’, i.e. KB—whose time and energy he might well consider would be better spent enhancing other aspects of the app.

So, I don’t speak for Keith or any of the team, and of course I’m more than happy to believe that he may agree with you. However I am always amazed by those who think it too much trouble to compile to RTF—or DOCX if you really need to—and then spend what normally boils down to a few minutes with it open in NWP, Word, or Pages, or even InDesign or equivalent, and sort out sectioning, layout issues etc. there, in an environment which is much better suited to dealing with such issues in the first place.

I’m glad you’ve found a solution, and I hope you’ve been able to make a template and/or a Compile preset which will save you a lot of time and effort in the future. But to reach that, you have probably spent far more time and effort than you would have done if you’d just simply compiled to RTF/DOCX, opened it in your word processor where you can see pretty much how it’s working out as you do it, and then printed to PDF from there,

But good luck.


Thank you Marc for the time you have spent commenting on the post. Certainly, it has taken me longer than I would have liked, but it is time well spent. Not only because I have found a solution to my “problem” (consider it as a mental exercise, like solving a puzzle) but also because it is a way of not using more soft than I think is necessary.

I bought Scrivener to write and not use MS Word. And although sometimes it drives me crazy, I’m happy with it.

Finally, I would like to add that I am very happy to have found a solution to what I was proposing thanks to the help of this forum. And I am also very happy to have shared it here too.